The 2024 desert racing season kicked off for Team OTSFF/MOTUL at the UNLTD Off-Road Racing Parker 400 in Parker, Arizona, January 9-14in the Unlimited Truck Spec class. This was the first race for the UNLTD Off-Road Racing series and saw the return of desert racing to Parker after a year away.
The Parker 400 is a celebrated titan in off-road racing, known for its demanding Arizona landscape and storied tradition of racing over the challenging 400-mile course. The Parker 400 brought out nearly 125 off-road warriors in twenty-five classes to compete on the newly CRIT Gauntlet and infamous Parker desert race course for three exciting days in front of a crowd of over twenty thousand race fans, campers, and spectators.
“It was great to be back in Parker,” Truck builder/technician/team manager Adam Fitza said. “The course, which hasn’t been raced on in years, was amazing. It was almost like new terrain as it wasn’t beaten up. We made notes and were ready for qualifying.”
The Parker 400 Downtown Experience showcased the most prominent figures in UNLTD Off-Road Racing for a day filled with technological displays, contingency activities, product demonstrations, autograph sessions, and entertainment. Team OTSFF/MOTUL passed with flying colors and was ready to qualify.
“Parker 400 was the first race back from two and a half months off,” Team owner and driver Andre Laurin said. “I felt slightly off as we hadn’t raced this event in years. Once I got in the well-prepped truck from Adam and hit the desert in Qualifying, all was back to normal. The truck felt great, as always.”
“Qualifying didn’t go as we had hoped with a 17th place qualifying run,” Fitza said. “We still had 400-plus miles to gain positions on race day.”
With a day off between qualifying and the race, the team spent Friday making the final adjustments to be ready. Team OTSFF/MOTUL teamed up with X Comp Tires to run an all-new tire for the season.
“X Comp Tires is thrilled to be working with Fitza Racing Development and the OTSFF race team for the 2024 season,” said the X Comp Brand Manager Dan Cohen. “We can both accomplish our racing goals for the 2024 calendar year. For the Parker 400, the team raced on our 40×13.5×17 X Comp XT tire. This tire is DOT-approved! The X Comp LT/UTV tires can accommodate all sorts of applications. We are stoked to take this journey with Adam and the team on their Trophy Truck and UTV race vehicles.”
The race plan was for Andre to drive the first two laps and Adam the last lap. Andre took off the line, and everything was going great. The goal was to get around Lap 1 conservatively and prevent any flats, which the team did, and makeup positions.
“On race day, by Lap 1, we put ourselves in the Top 10,” Laurin said. “We were hauling the mail and having a great time on Lap 2 until about race mile 85, where we drifted a little wide in a sand wash corner, which caught our rear right tire and put us on our roof.”
“Dalton (co-driver) and I were 100 percent ok, but we were no up upside down in the wash on the track, and volunteers out of nowhere showed up and flipped the truck back over and with some great effort from Dalton,” Laurin continued. “We were back on track trying to catch up on time loss. We only did two laps after losing over an hour and finished in 12th, which was still a great finish for not completing the full race.”
“Although we timed out to finish on the third lap, we still got finishing points and finished ahead of others who were out of the race earlier than us,” Fitza said. “It’s all part of racing. At the end of the day, we are all very fortunate to be able to compete in this type of racing. It’s an honor to compete, and we are putting our heads down and prepping the truck for a successful Mint 400.”
Despite not finishing where the team wanted, two races remain in the UNLTD Off-Road Racing series Triple Crown. There is still plenty of time to make up positions and plenty of desert that still needs conquering.
“We can’t thank X Comp Tires enough for the opportunity to run the XT tire this season, starting with the Parker 400,” Fitza said. “These tires are absolutely amazing! After 300 hard race miles we had zero issues. After our first pit at race mile 142, the tires had typical wear with zero chunking and no sidewall damage. I’ve raced for many years on damn near every brand, and this is THE tire. Major props to X Comp on figuring it out, as it is much needed for this industry.”
Next for Team OTSFF/MOTUL in the RZR is King of the Hammers, and for the Spec Trophy Truck is the UNLTD Off-Road Racing Mint 400 in Las Vegas, Nevada, March 6-10, 2024. Team OTSFF/MOTUL couldn’t do this without their wonderful sponsors: Motul, Vision Wheel, X Comp Tires, Dynamic Motorsports, Vibrant Performance, Rigid Industries, Recaro Seats, Viscid Design, Fitza Racing Development, and Glazzkraft.